The statues, institutional names and other memorials that have been under a media spotlight in recent weeks are the art and charity washing effluent of former times; but it is worth noting their status is only being widely scrutinised now due to years of quiet work by committed activists. It is right and proper that these memorials should be removed from public spaces or renamed. It is also worth noting that many of the slave trader memorials featured in recent news stories are for men who were in their time top City of London council officials including William Beckford Senior and Robert Geffrye who were lord mayors, and John Cass who was a sheriff.
Today’s City of London no longer deals in slaves but it still plunders the world and launders dirty money stolen from the many and funnelled through a network of tax havens to a tiny super-rich elite. The square mile is the most corrupt place on earth and history is likely to judge its contemporary officials as harshly as we now judge the likes of Beckford, Geffrye and Cass. Like these predecessors, today’s City officials are keen on art and charity washing their activities.
One of the City’s current artwashing projects is the so-called Culture Mile. This consists both of grandiose projects such as a ridiculously expensive and yet to be realised Centre For Music, and lesser ‘pop up’ programmes including last month’s Radio Local, which functioned to compromise those who involved themselves in it by drawing them into the City’s artwashing orbit and mixing together self-organised community initiatives such as a local food bank with the obnoxious animal cruelty operation Club Gascon (which masquerades as a restaurant and specialises in foie gras torture ‘dishes’). Club Gascon is run by Pascal Aussignac, who appears – in conjunction with Vincent Labeyrie AKA Pierre Vincent Francois Xavier Labeyrie – to co-own such abominations as Le Bar (Club Gascon’s annex), Comptoir Gascon in Charterhouse Street, Cigalon and Baranis on Chancery Lane, and Catch Me AKA Chip + Fish in London’s Westfield shopping centres.
For those who don’t know how foie gras – the house speciality at Club Gascon – is produced, the following article from the Independent explains:
Foie gras production is so barbaric that it is illegal in the UK – as well as in most parts of Europe. As such, it has the dubious distinction of being one of the few “ingredients” that Brits are banned from making but, paradoxically, permitted to sell, buy, and consume…
Foie gras production is revoltingly, horrifically cruel – it involves intentionally inducing a painful, debilitating illness in a healthy, young animal. Workers roughly grab weeks-old ducks and geese and shove a metal tube down their throats, through which they force-feed the birds up to 2kg of food every day. This highly stressful process commonly inflicts serious injuries – according to avian-welfare expert Dr Ian Duncan: “The regular insertion of a feeding tube down the esophagus several times a day will inevitably lead to damage of the esophagus.” Eyewitness investigators on foie gras farms have found geese so ill that they could no longer stand up – even at facilities that boast the “highest welfare standards in the world”.
The birds’ livers balloon to up to 10 times their normal size – about the size of a rugby ball. A rugby ball! At this point, many of the birds can barely breathe, and they constantly gasp for air. According to veterinarian Dr Holly Cheever of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, “due to the enormous size of the livers … The birds have no room for their air sacs to fill with oxygen … Analogous to feeling as if one is [being smothered]”.
Of course, we don’t need to wait for foie gras to be banned in the UK to do the right thing by gentle geese and ducks. Indeed, every world-renowned chef with an ethical bone in their body already refuses to serve it. This includes Wolfgang Puck, Albert Roux, and Alexis Gauthier – who, since removing foie gras from the menu of his French restaurant in London’s Soho, has created his own vegan faux gras recipe…
Foie gras production and sales must stop now – if not because the law requires it then because it’s the right thing to do. We can all help protect geese and ducks from horrendous abuse by keeping foie gras off our dinner tables and refusing to patronise establishments that continue to sell this shameful, un-British product of torture.
Foie gras is a cruel and inhumane product – now Brexit finally offers us the opportunity to ban it by Elisa Allen, Independent, 9 February 2019: https://web.archive.org/web/20200420230349/https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/foie-gras-ban-new-york-animal-cruelty-uk-eu-food-rights-a8771086.html
It seems likely that at least some of those who engaged with Radio Local hadn’t thought through how the City might use their participation for its own propaganda purposes, nor who they might find themselves sharing a platform with – including animal abusers like Club Gascon. Radio Local is run by a duo calling themselves Hunt & Darton and for the Culture Mile they produced a daily hour programme over a two week period (31 May to 13 June 2020) that sort to co-opt the local community in the EC1 area into City of London artwashing: the 14 hour series was broadcast on a ResonanceFM lunchtime slot.
Culture Mile claims to be a local transformation (i.e. socially exclusionary gentrification) project run by 5 core ‘partners’, City of London, Barbican (Art) Centre, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London. As we’ve previously pointed out the latter four are less partners and more fronts for the City of London, being largely dependent on it for funding and having representatives from the City on – and largely controlling – their boards.
We urge everyone to boycott all City of London artwashing and charitywashing projects including but not limited to the Culture Mile, and to boycott animal cruelty operations like Club Gascon too! Meanwhile the City is trying its best to entice the naive into compromising themselves by inviting local artists and creatives to get involved with the Culture Mile. Those that do will find the City of London always takes far more than it gives. Don’t be fooled by the verbiage and don’t compromise yourself! Read through some of the posts on this blog to discover just what’s wrong with the City of London if you don’t already know why you shouldn’t have anything to do with the UK’s last rotten borough.
BOYCOTT CULTURE MILE!
BOYCOTT CLUB GASCON & ASSOCIATED BUSINESSES!
At least some of the artists and creatives we know in EC1 and beyond already understand that they’d have to be aesthetically and morally bankrupt to involve themselves in the Culture Mile! This may account for why the Culture Mile Twitter account has posted the tweet above four times in the last month – many of those they’d like to ‘engage’ have the suss not to compromise themselves through involvement in artwashing/gentrification projects and know doing so would be so much worse than just a complete waste of their time.
The header shows the cruelty involved in foie gras production but despite this Radio Local Culture Mile considered it acceptable to feature a restaurant that specialises in foie gras dishes.
Foie gras cruelty specialist Pascal Aussignac uses pictures of flying ducks as a header on his Twitter account – the birds tortured by being force fed prior to being served up in Aussignac’s restaurants never get to fly in their short pain-filled lives.